GREEN BAY – DeShone Kizer is not participating in the Green Bay Packers' rookie orientation, having accrued his first season with the Cleveland Browns last year, but coach Mike McCarthy shared a glimpse Saturday of what he thinks the new quarterback brings.
McCarthy had high praise for Kizer, who will compete with Brett Hundley to be Aaron Rodgers’ backup. The coach not only said Kizer “has starter ability in this league,” but suggested the second-year quarterback has franchise potential.
“In my opinion, if he was in that class this year,” McCarthy said, “he would’ve been part of that group of first four guys, or first five. I always felt there were five, the five quarterbacks, first-round guys.”
The “first four guys” McCarthy referenced were Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield (first overall, Cleveland), USC’s Sam Darnold (third, New York Jets), Wyoming’s Josh Allen (seventh, Buffalo) and UCLA’s Josh Rosen (10th, Arizona). The fifth was Louisville’s Lamar Jackson – like Mayfield, also a former Heisman Trophy winner – whom Baltimore drafted with the last pick in the first round (32nd overall).
It's especially high praise because the 2018 class was the first time four quarterbacks were drafted in the top-10 picks, a sign of the expectations they carry collectively.
Kizer was a second-round pick in 2017 (No. 52 overall), but he left Notre Dame with two years of eligibility remaining. If he had taken the time to further develop in college, perhaps his draft stock would have benefited.
Kizer went winless in 15 starts for the Browns, throwing for 11 touchdowns against 22 interceptions for a 60.5 passer rating that ranked last in the NFL.
McCarthy said he sees high-end potential with Kizer. Now, it’s his job to help his second-year quarterback reach it.
“I think he has exceptional arm talent,” McCarthy said. “What we’re asking him to do is, particularly the footwork and just how he fits the scheme, and how he operates is brand new to him. That always excites me, because when you see that guy has no experience or background but has the ability, to me that’s an opportunity for a lot of growth. So I think he has a bright future.”